Donovan, William Joseph “Wild Bill”, born 01-01-1883 in Buffalo, New York, was of Irish descent. During World War I, Donovan organized and led a battalion of the United States Army, designated the 165th Regiment of the 42nd Division “Rainbow” , the federalized designation of the famed 69th New York Volunteers, the “Fighting 69th . During the interwar years, Donovan traveled extensively in Europe and met with foreign leaders including Benito Mussolini of Italy. Donovan openly believed during this time that a second major European war was inevitable. His foreign experience and realism earned him the attention and friendship of Columbia classmate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
. Roosevelt gave him a number of increasingly important assignments. In 1940 and 1941, Donovan traveled as an informal emissary to Britain, where he was urged by William “Frankie Knox and Roosevelt to gauge Britain’s ability to withstand Adolf Hitler’s (did you know) aggression. During these trips, Donovan met with key officials in the British war effort, including Sir Winston Churchill. Donovan was appointed the Chief of the Office of Coordination of Information (COI), one of the first comprehensive efforts of the U.S. government to gather military information in preparation for actual maneuvers. Given the initial lack of espionage experience among his team, Donovan delivered impressive results with the OSS that significantly aided the Allies’ efforts in the duration of the war. The OSS was particularly helpful in gathering intelligence in preparation for the Allied invasion of southern Europe, an effort that was crucial in reducing the casualty rate among Allied troops. For his work, Donovan received awards including the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1945. After the war Donovan secured an appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. His daughter, 18 years old died in a car accident and Donovan never was the old one anymore.
Death and burial ground of Donovan, William Joseph “Wild Bill”.
He died of a stroke, at the age of 76, on 08-02-1959, in the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. and is buried on Arlington Cemetery, Section 2. Close by in Section 2, the graves of General, Commander 92nd “ Negro Division”, Edward “Ned” Almond, Major General, Commander 8th Bomber Command Europe, Frederick Anderson, Rear Admiral, Commander Destroyer Greyson, Frederic Bell, Navy Admiral, “Operation Crossroads”, William Blandy, General, Commander 32nd Infantry Division , Clovis Byers, Navy Admiral. Battle of the Leyte Gulf, Robert Carney, Air Force General Lieutenant, Claire Chennault, Lieutenant General, Commander 4th Corps, Italy Campaign, Willis Crittenberger, Brigadier General, First African-American General, Benjamin Davis, Quartermaster Lieutenant General, John Lesesne De Witt, Brigadier General, Speck Easley, Marine Corps Major General, Commander 1st Raider Battalion, Merrit “Red Mike”Edson, Lieutenant General, VIII Army, Robert Eichelberger, Navy Admiral, Commander Nord Pacific Fleet, Frank Fletscher and Navy Admiral, Commander VII Forces, William Fechteler, Admiral, U.S. Chief of Naval Material, John Gingrich and U.S. Brigadier General, “ Merrills Marauders “ in Burma, Frank Down Merrill, U.S. 4* Navy Vice Admiral, Commander U.S.S. Hornet, Doolittle Raid, Marc Mitscher.